We review the first issue of the new EU Ssseries from creators Joshua Williamson and Andrea Milana.
From the moment we first spoke with Joshua Williamson about Cobra Commander, the writer has gleefully described the comic as resting firmly in the horror genre. The notion was immediately tantalizing, and the first issue absolutely delivers on that genre, but it's also something else that's much more enticing. Cobra Commander #1 is WEIRD.
For those who didn't grow up watching the GI Joe cartoons, reading the comics, or playing with the toys, the weirdness may be a surprise. These stories have never just been about good guns versus bad guns. GI Joe and Transformers have always leaned heavily into science fiction and fantasy, although GI Joe may have taken a little more time to get to...well, to say any more would be a spoiler.
And since the first issue of Void Rivals, Skybound has carefully and expertly managed our expectations while holding onto some jaw-dropping reveals. I want to honor their commitment to surprise and say as much about Cobra Commander #1 as they've already done in the press releases and page previews.
The five-page Cobra Commander tease found at the back of last week's Transformers issue is all I want you to know, because the second you turn to page six, your brain will either pop with surprise or confusion, depending on your GI Joe history.
What would you do with these franchises if they were under your control? You would do, or at least have delusions that you could do, what Joshua Williamson and Andrea Milana are doing with Cobra Commander. You/I would hit the accelerator and get us to the whacky, crazy, exciting stuff as quickly as you could. GI Joe is so damn weird, and for the Energon Universe not to rise to that level of weirdness would be a sin. They're not tricking new readers hungry for military gun-ho action into reading a bonkers sci-fi extravaganza. They're not doing Lost. Although, they're not not doing Lost either. Lol. They're honoring the saga and all its seemingly incongruous pieces.
If you didn't already appreciate Joshua Williamson's nerdom for all things Joe with Duke, then you'll have it all exposed to you in Cobra Commander. He's not creating an easter egg hunt or getting clever with deep cuts. The whole damn thing is a big deep cut and one we accidentally stumbled upon during our last conversation with him and artist Tom Reilly (please, after reading this issue, go back and listen to our Duke episode).
Andrea Milana is having a ball, too. His line has a sketchy quality that aligns nicely with Cobra Commander's malleable morality. He stays true to the classic Hasbro designs but finds ways to bend them to match the comic's menacing tone. Paired beautifully with colorist Annalisa Leoni, Cobra Commander looks luscious and murky equally. Cinematically, you can imagine the book shot through Lucio Fulci's grimy Giallo vision.
With each Energon Universe release, the titles grow closer together and further apart simultaneously. The connections are evident and intriguing, but an inevitable collision feels months off, if not years. As fast as Cobra Commander is to jump into its wild and weird world, Skybound apparently has a massive narrative in the works. They're in it for the long haul, and making predictions of who or what you may see next might prove foolish. We certainly didn't see this issue coming.
Quickie Review: Cobra Commander #1 is a shockingly thrilling entry into the Energon Universe. Joshua Williamson and Andrea Milana plunge into the cavernous weirdness that is GI Joe mythology without fear or hesitation. The result is a rapid first read and a sumptuously slow second read. All of us eighties kids are eating well in 2024.
Cobra Commander #1
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Andrea Milana
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound
On Sale: 1/17/24
Synopsis: Miniseries Premiere The Rise of Cobra Begins HERE. In a world where the Cobra organization hasn’t formed, one man’s sinister plans to utilize the mysterious alien substance known as Energon sends shockwaves across the globe. Who is Cobra Commander? Where does he come from? And what horrors is he planning to unleash that will rock the world – and maybe the universe – to its core? Red-hot writer JOSHUA WILLIAMSON (Superman, DUKE) and artist ANDREA MILANA (IMPACT WINTER: ROOK) kick off the second of four action-packed miniseries that will introduce the best and worst humanity has to offer in the Energon Universe.